October 15: Happy Birthday Linda Lavin and Penny Marshall
Today our headliners are two actresses who were very familiar faces to late 1970s and early ’80s TV audiences, both of whom have other accomplishments as well.
Linda Lavin turns 79 today. Her first significant TV role was in the recurring role Det. Janice Wentworth on Barney Miller. After two seasons, she left the show to take the lead role in a sitcom about a widow with a young son who plans to move to California, but ends up in Phoenix after her car breaks down, and finds work as a waitress at a restaurant called Mel’s. She played the role of Alice Hyatt in Alice for a run of nine seasons, winning two Golden Globes for Best TV Actress–Musical or Comedy.
Lavin made a number of TV movies and a few feature films, including The Muppets Take Manhattan, but aside from Alice she is most notable as a stage actress. She made her Broadway debut in 1962 in the musical A Family Affair, and except for the years of Alice’s run, she never left for very long. She is a six time Tony nominee, winning Best Actress in a Play in 1987 for Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound.
Penny Marshall celebrates her 73rd today. She had been working in television for several years when, in 1975, she and Cindy Williams were cast as a pair of brewery workers for a guest appearance on Happy Days. Their episode was so well received that the two characters, LaVerne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, were given their own series. LaVerne & Shirley was a major hit and ran for eight seasons on ABC, and Marshall received three Golden Globe nominations during the show’s run.
Marshall began directing while working on LaVerne & Shirley, and moved into directing feature films in the mid-1980s. Her directing credits include Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Big, and A League of Their Own. More recently she has directed episodes of Showtime’s The United States of Tara.
Tanya Roberts, who turns 61 today, first drew attention as Julie Rogers on the final season of Charlie’s Angels. In the early 1980s she starred in kitschy films like The Beastmaster and Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, and in 1985 she was Roger Moore’s final Bond Girl in A View to a Kill. More recently, she was Midge Pinciotti on That ’70s Show.
Bailee Madison, who turns 17, has been acting since she was seven. She stars in the Hallmark Channel’s Good Witch and will star in next year’s Cowgirl’s Story. Hip hop and R&B singer Keyshia Cole turns 35 today; she was a four-time Grammy nominee during the last decade whose biggest hit was “Let It Go.” Vince Martella, who celebrates his 24th, provided the voice of Phineas Flynn on the Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferd and co-starred on Everybody Hates Chris as Greg Wuliger.
Richard Carpenter, who is 70 today, joined with his sister Karen to form The Carpenters, one of the most successful recording duos of all time, with estimated sales of upwards of 100 million records. Comedian and actor Larry Miller, who is 63, has appeared in films such as Pretty Woman, Undercover Blues, and 10 Things I Hate About You. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who turns 71, won three American League Cy Young Awards and led the Baltimore Orioles to three World Series titles during his career.
Vanessa Marcil celebrates her 48th; she has received two Daytime Emmy nominations for General Hospital and starred on NBC’s Las Vegas as Sam Marquez. Dominic West is 47 today. He starred as Jimmy McNulty on HBO’s The Wire, won a BAFTA Award for the British miniseries Appropriate Adult, and received a Golden Globe nomination for his role on Showtime’s The Affair, soon starting its third season. Indian-American director Mira Nair has credits that include the Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, and the 2004 adaptation of Vanity Fair. She turns 59 today. Also turning 59 is Michael Caton-Jones, who has directed films such as Doc Hollywood, Rob Roy and The Jackal.
Novelist Evan Hunter (1926-2005) was a man of many names. Born Salvatore Lombino, he changed his legal name to Evan Hunter in 1952; however, the majority of his books were published under the name Ed McBain. As McBain, he wrote the over 50 novels of the 87th Precinct series, one of the best in the police procedural subgenre. As Evan Hunter, he wrote novels like The Blackboard Jungle, and also several screenplays, including Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Other writers born today: Mario Puzo (1920-1999) was most famous for his novels about the Mafia, most famously The Godfather, of course, but also others like The Sicilian and The Last Don. He also wrote the original screenplay for Superman: The Movie. P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) wrote several dozen novels and short stories about a hapless gentleman named Bertie Wooster and his hypercompetent valet Jeeves. Publius Vergilius Maro, usually known as Virgil (70-19 BCE), was one of the greatest of all classical poets, author of the epic Aeneid.
Jane Darwell’s (1879-1967) long film career included winning Best Supporting Actress as Ma Joad in John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (she was one of Ford’s “stock company” regulars), and coming out of semi-retirement to appear as the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins. Mervyn LeRoy (1900-1987) worked as a director and producer for over 40 years. He directed films such as the gangster classic Little Caesar and the Roman epic Quo Vadis, while as head of production at MGM he was responsible for films such as The Wizard of Oz.
Theater director Jose Quintero (1924-1999) was known for his interpretations of the works of Eugene O’Neill, winning a Tony for his direction of a 1973 revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten. Jean Peters (1926-2000) began her film career starring opposite Tyrone Power in Captain from Castile. She starred in a pair of 1953 film noir classics, Niagara (opposite Marilyn Monroe) and Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street; not long after, she married Howard Hughes and largely retired from acting. Star Trek fans will remember Mark Lenard (1924-1996) for his appearances as Ambassador Sarek, Spock’s father, on the original series episode “Journey to Babel” and in three of the feature films (and hopefully also as the Romulan commander in “Balance of Terror”).
If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names. Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today. Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.
Posted on October 15, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Dominic West, Evan Hunter, Jane Darwell, Jean Peters, Linda Lavin, Mark Lenard, Mira Nair, Penny Marshall, Richard Carpenter, Tanya Roberts. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.